BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Boxing icon-turned presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao yesterday said that he will not endorse any candidate for the mayoralty position in Bacolod City.
Pacquiao, in a press conference at the Nature’s Village Resort in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, stressed that he will only endorse a party mate.
Former Rep. Alfredo Benitez is challenging the incumbent Evelio Leonardia, who is seeking a third term as mayor of Bacolod City.
Pacquiao was declared as adopted son of Bacolod City under the administration of Leonardia, who is among the politicians who closely tags along the Filipino boxing icon during his boxing matches.
A courtesy visit to Leonardia at the Bacolod City Government Center to pay was not included in his itinerary yesterday, while he did visit Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson at the Provincial Capitol, Mayor Mark Andrew Golez in Silay City, and Mayor Neil Lizares in Talisay City.
Asked of his relationship with Leonardia, Pacquiao said he remains as his “good friend and kumpadre,” stressing that they even talked over the phone yesterday morning.
Pacquiao also clarified that he was only following a schedule given to him, as he further stressed that he is not the one setting up his schedule of activities.
Former Representative and Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella and his son, Bacolod City councilor aspirant Kalaw Puentevella, welcomed Pacquiao at the Bacolod-Silay Airport and accompanied him in his campaign sorties in Negros Occidental.
The younger Puentevella is a member of Pacquiao’s political party – PROMDI (Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives).
Pacquiao said that his policy is not to ask for help from incumbent elected officials, adding that it may compromise his campaign against corruption if they ask something in return of their support.
But if he gets support in exchange of nothing, the Filipino boxing icon said he is thankful for it.
Pacquiao also dismissed as “hearsay” claims that he may quit the presidential race, and will endorse the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo due to low ratings in surveys.
When was Manny backed out from the fight? he asked.
“I am a fighter. We will fight. We will win,” Pacquiao stressed.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday said that he and Pacquiao only talked about sports, such as basketball, during his courtesy visit.
We did not talk politics, Lacson, who is supporting the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, pointed out.
Pacquiao was accompanied by his wife Jinky, his two daughters and mother, movie actress Ruffa Gutierrez, Annabelle Rama, as well as Ruffa Mae Quinto in his campaign sorties in Negros Occidental.*